A message from the President before Fan Expo

Paul Terefenko

August 28, 2009

Article taken from NOW Toronto

Battlestar Galactica (BSG) lovers checking out Fan Expo Canada (Aug. 28-30 at the Metro Convention Centre, 222 Bremner) may want to aim for Friday or Saturday.
That’s when Mary McDonnell, President Laura Roslin on the lauded series – which wrapped its fourth and final season this past spring – will make a rare appearance.

NOW spoke to the two-time Oscar-nominated actress, who’s still pretty new to sci-fi conventions, about what it’s like to engage with fans this way, her penchant for playing strong woman roles and why you might find her asking the questions at actual science and tech fairs.

Much of your career prior to BSG was outside of the sci-fi realm. Was it difficult making this jump?

Acting is acting. It’s the same in a movie, in a play or in the sci-fi world. It doesn’t feel any more or less of a challenge. What I did experience since it was specifically in the world of sci-fi was this broadening of my own awareness of the possibilities of storytelling and the broadening of my connection to a different aspect of pop culture.

It’s been a delightful awakening to some really phenomenal people and the way they think – a kind of audience that’s demanding and has high thought complexity.

The experience as an actress was challenging only because it was a challenging role.

Challenging seems like an understatement for Laura Roslin, who deals with a slew of complicated issues from cancer to saving humanity. Are you naturally drawn to strong woman roles?

I am drawn, but I don’t consciously seek it. Rarely am I cast in something where the woman isn’t some kind of adventurer. That’s what I feel comes to me: characters that bridge cultures or have to take responsibility for other people.

Quite often I play a character, and this is absolutely the case with Laura Roslin, who took on the role by destiny and grew into her strength.

That, to me, is a very interesting issue about women right now. This is the moment where women around the world are growing into their potential feminine power.

Does that mean you find women approaching you as a role model?

Without a doubt. That’s one of the things that I’ve been humbled by with Laura Roslin and feel really grateful for and feel responsible for is the amount of young women who saw her in a certain way and stayed on that journey with her every step of the way and suffered through the mistakes she made and watched her recover.

They really appreciate her. I’ve been quite amazed by that and really happy about it because it’s so nice when the right writing gives you a lifeline to the culture.

Does that mean you have people coming up to you suggesting you should run for political office?

Yes, you always have that because people are so lovely and project onto you. But really, it’sRon Moore that should run for political office because ideas are right on and he’s able to juggle the complexities of any situation quite gracefully. He would be my president. Also, I’m pretty happy with Obama.

How often do you travel to conventions?

I haven’t done that many. I did one last year and two the year before. I did them sporadically since we started Battlestar. I remember the very first one I did, I was overwhelmed by it, but was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how rewarding it was to actually be that connected to the fan base.

I am always amazed at how lovely people are, and it makes me happy to be able to show up now because these people make your artistry possible.

As time goes on and I understand more about the impact of this show and the character, when it feels like the right situation, it feels very good for me to do it because we owe a lot to our fans.

What are BSG conversations typically like?

The people who are interested in talking about our show have fluid minds and there’s a lot of interesting discourse about very complex issues. That’s true around the world. It’s the same kind of person – the person who wants the world to move forward, who wants to see technology used to its ultimate best, who’s interested in other realms of reality. When you get a room of 1,000 of these people, it can get really exciting.

And you also find yourself connecting science fiction and actual science, like the World Science Festival.

That was a really fascinating moment because we’re there as these characters to provide a bridge. If we show up – me and Mikey (Michael) Hogan – people may come and if they come and we’re on the stage with these brilliant scientists, I can ask the “dumb” questions and maybe there are 600 people wondering the same thing.

Because we’re coming it at it with genuine curiosity, the scientists are able to speak on terms that we can understand.


For those more concerned with the future of the BSG universe than our own, you’ll be pleased to know (but have probably already downloaded the pilot) that Caprica begins airing early next year and you should be able to catch The Plan, a condensed retelling of the BSG series story from the point of view of the Cylons, in a couple of months. There’s also a feature in the works by Battlestar’s original creator and is not tied to the 2000s series.

As for McDonnell, she says she’s done with BSG for now, but is working on a secret project that, fittingly, she’s keeping a secret (for now).

Script developed by Never Enough Design